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Navigating context in experiments: The “real,” the roots, the rationale

Das Journal "European Urban and Regional Studies" auf einem grauen Hintergrund. Zudem sind Portraits von Johannes Suitner und Astrid Krisch zu sehen.

© European Urban and Regional Studies

In this paper, Johannes Suitner and Astrid Krisch (Kellogg College - University of Oxford, Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation) examine the Grätzlmarie in Vienna as an example of non-technological experiments in transformation. They show that actors' knowledge & reflexivity about context are key capacities for success.


Main takeaways: 

  • Non-technological experiments are important for transformation: They address the unique local implications of global challenges and related social needs by testing alternative practices and paths for societal change.
  • Such experiments face a transformative dilemma: They aim to change those structures in which they are simultaneusoy embedded. Only understanding and consciously operating with these contexts creates leeway for change.

Experiments must navigate 3 context dimensions:

  1. unique structural conditions,
  2. specific political-institutional frameworks, and
  3. competing perceptions and aspirations associated with place.

The knowledge, reflexivity and flexibility to "navigate context" and consequently create impact are unevenly distributed. Experimentation thus becomes a question of power. Transformative governance therefore needs knowledge brokers who overview these contextual complexities, and facilitate experiments with contextual knowledge.


This paper, opens an external URL in a new window emerged from SIAMESE, opens an external URL in a new window, a research project funded by Klimafonds.
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